Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of budgeting and putting a bit aside for a rainy day. This is something that the Husband and I drill into the kids on a daily basis.
There’s nothing like teaching them the power of anticipation and the value of saving up for the things they really want.
I think I inherited this from my parents. I can still hear dad’s voice behind me when about to squander my pocket money on a copy of Jackie or some Black Jack chews (4 for a penny!). “You don’t really need that, do you?” he used to say.
Mum and Dad were both born in 1939 just in time for World War II and having experienced rationing their attitude to saving is a lot more stringent than that of most Millennials.
When you’re young you always think you’ll live for ever and you really can’t envisage the day when you’ll need your pension – or what desperate circumstance might arise when you’ll need to get your hands on some cash quickly.
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When you become a home owner (which is increasingly looking a rather remote possibility for Caitlin and Ieuan), it is often a bit of a shock to be landed with bills for replacing a boiler, rewiring the electrics or fixing a leaky roof!
Equally, though, you don’t want to spend your life always worrying about whether you should be enjoying yourself. We are only here once (depending on your personal beliefs of course).
Life is too short to wallow in guilt about treating yourself occasionally.
Planning your financial year is the answer. This January Saga are running the #SagaPlanYourYear Campaign.
Saga offers a range of products and services exclusively for the over 50s, including insurance, holidays, money and the UK’s best selling monthly magazine.
They are encouraging us to pick up our pens and planners (some of us still haven’t got to grips with Google spreadsheets) and create a budget which will cushion us against financial shocks whilst still adding a frisson of excitement to 2017.
And I’m sure we are all looking forward to a more exciting and happier year than 2016 which seemed to chiefly feature Brexit, the terrible war in Syria, the looming nightmare of Donald Trump and the grim reaper happily cutting swathes through celeb land.
Those of us over 50 are aware that retirement is, if not exactly looming on the horizon, something that needs thinking about. Saving is pretty critical in these years and you really don’t want to be dipping into your savings pot to fund large items of expenditure.
I’m sure most of us don’t want to start taking out large, and often expensive, loans either.
One way to release funds for things such as home improvements like a conservatory or adapting a property to meet mobility needs, or that long promised cruise, is by equity release.
Now obviously you will want to make sure that you take independent financial advice to look at your finances as a whole and to plug any gaps which might need urgent attention – especially your pension and possibly funeral planning.
But equity release may well work for you. This is where you obtain funds derived from the value of your property whilst still being allowed to live there.
Saga helps those over 55 with its equity release service. Used sensibly, this can help you gain greater control over your finances.
So, what action points are on the Hobbis Family’s planner?
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Here’s our top 5.
Plan for Christmas
Still far and away our biggest expense. This year we’re trying to save £3 a day up to the first of December which should give us £996.
Pay Off Our Holidays
We have two weeks in Devon booked with Toad Hall Cottages and need to pay off the balance around March.
If our funds will stretch I’d like to take an extra week towards the end of the summer holidays (when everyone is in dire need of something to remove the boredom and boost the spirits!).
I’d also look to have a few shorter breaks and take a lot more day trips.
Budget for carpet
Just the word tends to make my soul sink but it has to be done. We took all the carpet up hoping that wood floors would help with allergies and reduce dust.
They do, but the house creaks in the night like an old galleon and it’s impossible to creep about without risking waking the kids.
Plus we’re hoping to dampen the sound of our next door neighbour’s occasional belief that he lives in a night club in Ibiza and ramps up the volume of his stereo accordingly.
We’ll make sure we time our purchase around bank holidays and general sale periods when there are often great deals to be had.
Reduce our food bills
The key to this is menu planning and shopping list writing. It’s something I’m still trying to discipline myself to do.
Otherwise it’s too easy to wander round Tesco throwing ‘things you fancy for tea’ in a trolley which, 9 time out of 10, wouldn’t make a nutritionist very happy.
Then there’s Ieuan’s “Mr Kipling” habit but since Mr Kipling’s cakes are rapidly reducing to the size of microdots, it might be time to get baking again.
Save more by using vouchers and discount codes
If you avoid impulse buying and plan your purchases sensibly you can often save by buying through cash-back sites like Topcashback which is free to use.
So that’s our top 5. I think it’s a good idea to sit down with the family (and the kids!) and discuss financial objectives for the year.
It’s never too soon for little ones to grasp that their parents have to work for their money and that there are some things which have to be paid for before Roblox, Minecraft and anything with a puppy printed on it.
Have you planned your financial year yet?